Important interview with Law Council president. (re; Haneef).

Created: Sunday, 22 July 2007 Written by Ron
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Here is the transcript from "Meet the Press" TV program early this morning.
Given the experience, knowledge, status and the influence of Tim Bugg, I consider this interview one of the most interesting and the most important of it's kind to take place in the last 2 weeks, at least.
I suggest you take the time to sit down and read it in full, taking particular note of Mr. Bugg's answer to the last question posed by Philip Clark. Mr Bugg spells out in no uncertain terms just what is happening behind the scenes and the legal inconsistencies and some may say "travesties", in this unfolding case/farce regarding Dr. Haneef.


MEET THE PRESS

INTERVIEW WITH LAW COUNCIL PRESIDENT TIM BUGG.

July 22nd 2007


GREG TURNBULL: Welcome back to Meet the Press. Well, the detention, charging and subsequent treatment of Dr Mohammed Haneef has been controversial at virtually every step along the way. It's the saga of how a man went from being a respected doctor at the Gold Coast Hospital one day to a huddled figure in prison overalls in the back of a paddy wagon. Bailed but still in jail, visa'd but now persona non grata and then there was the controversial leaking of a record of interview by Haneef's own barrister, Stephen Keim.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL PHILIP RUDDOCK (from Wednesday film archive): The appropriate place for that material to be used was not in the media, but before the courts, and I believe it is a breach of the professional ethics of those who saw fit to put it in the public arena.

GREG TURNBULL: Well, the Law Council of Australia has taken a close and outspoken interest in the case, the Council's President is Tim Bugg, and he's our guest this morning. Well, firstly on that Stephen Keim matter, was he right to release, to leak, that record of interview, and does that mean that in future on the fringes of court battles we'll have a sort of spin battle?

LAW COUNCIL PRESIDENT TIM BUGG: The record of interview was in Dr Haneef's possession quite properly and had been given to him. If he through his advisers chose to release it, then it may be that no criticism should be levelled at what occurred. The Attorney was very quick to comment on what happened too. The Law Council's had a lot of calls from the lawyers within Australia being very critical of the Attorney's approach to this.

PHILIP CLARK: Mr Bugg, what do you think should happen now to Dr Haneef?

TIM BUGG: Dr Haneef has obviously got to be dealt with on the charge that he's facing and that ought to be dealt with as quickly as possible, however, we would suggest that the Minister for Immigration ought to consider giving him a bridging visa. I go back to the process that he was put through before he was charged, namely, the detention process. We're very critical of that because of the time it took for him to be processed, the fact that he was in detention without charge for nearly 12 days. And if we skip over the charge itself, he then went through a bail application, keeping in mind that to obtain bail he had to establish to the satisfaction of the court that an exceptional circumstance for him to get bail, but immediately after that the Minister unilaterally stepped in, withdrew the visa, which meant that he was to go into detention. Keep in mind also that the withdrawal of the visa is designed to lead to someone's deportation. One queries why the Minister would consider that when clearly Dr Haneef had to be in Australia to face the charge he's been charged with.

PHILIP CLARK: You can see that that's what happened, having been perfectly proper. He's been dealt with according to law. The effect of these laws were debated at the time they were passed in the parliament. He's been dealt with perfectly in accordance with the law, hasn't he?

TIM BUGG: He's been dealt with in accordance with he law but going back to the legislation itself, it wasn't debated fully at the time. We're very critical of the process that was followed in 2004, the Law Council was critical of the possibility of indefinite detention. At the time we were howled down and told that it was really fanciful that something like has occurred, would occur. We've seen this legislation in operation and we now say it's time to review it, that there ought to be a cap on this so-called "reasonable dead time" which saw Dr Haneef detained for up to 12 days before he was charged.

JENNIFER HEWETT: Given the very real risk of terrorism, don't you think that the public would rather be safe than sorry?

TIM BUGG: Look, the Government clearly has an overwhelming responsibility to protect the citizens of this country from acts of terrorism. The Law Council deplores terrorism, we all do, however, that doesn't mean that long-held rights are jettisoned without proper consideration. It may be that those rights have to be somehow reduced to account for the threats that we face, but if we go back to the detention process, there wasn't proper debate at the time the Senate committee which looked into the proposed legislation recommended that there be a cap on the so-called dead time of about 24 hours to allow for differences in international time.

JENNIFER HEWETT: But given the way that terrorism cells and particularly terror cells operate, 24 hours isn't very long to really investigate anything thoroughly. Don't you think that, really, individual rights should be curtailed in the interest of the greater public good?

TIM BUGG: It depends how they're curtailed. There ought to be debate about their curtailment and the problem we now confront in Australia is legislation to introduce speedily without proper consultation and if there had been proper debate at the time, the Law Council believes that a more sensible approach would have been followed. phyla Shouldn't the links though, between Dr Haneef and his cousins and the people, the doctors and others in Britain who have been charged with serious terrorist offences, shouldn't those links be properly explored before Dr Haneef goes anywhere?

TIM BUGG: They ought to be explored but ensuring that Dr Haneef's rights are protected. If the investigating authorities say that a longer period should be allowed for investigation, they should produce policy reasons for that - that didn't happen at the time. In fact, the Australian Federal Police suggested that the cap on the so-called reasonable dead time ought to be 24 hours to account for international time differences.

PHILIP CLARK: Do you think taxpayers should fork out compensation for Dr Haneef if indeed the case against him collapses?

TIM BUGG: That's a matter for his lawyers to advise him on, but I don't believe that compensation is the issue we're confronting. It's individual's rights and whether the process that's been followed is now appropriate, having been put into operation.

GREG TURNBULL: Nevertheless, he's virtually been defamed by the state. If he were to be acquitted or charges dropped against him, it's unlikely he'd be wandering the corridors of the Gold Coast Hospital any time soon.

TIM BUGG: Clearly, it won't help his situation. The fact that the Minister, revoking his visa, referred to his character and being determinate of what was going to happen to him. We're concerned about that process. The unilateral process the Minister adopted, and people are entitled to ask "Why at that time, why was it done? Why was he going to be put into detention in such a way that would make it more difficult for him to consult his legal advisers in Brisbane?"

JENNIFER HEWETT: It's always going to be a question of balance, isn't it? Obviously the Minister acted because he didn't want Dr Haneef wandering free. Isn't that a fairly reasonable position given that in terms of the immigration issues, he doesn't have to have the same burden of proof that a court would have to have?

TIM BUGG: But Jennifer, the doctor has been through a bail application, keep in mind the process quite different from that being the Minister embarked upon. It was a process that saw Dr Haneef through his advisers argue his case, put the matters that he wanted to put before the magistrate, on the other hand, the prosecution could do the same. The Minister's process was quite different. It was unilateral. We don't know what information was available to the Minister, and Dr Haneef had no right under the legislation to have any input into that process.

PHILIP CLARK: You're not suggesting that the security of the country and a threat to terrorism should be determined by a Queensland magistrate, are you?

TIM BUGG: The process is that the doctor can be charged under the Crimes Act. He has been. He's taken before a court. The question of bail is argued. That magistrate, authorised by our processes, brought up over centuries in this country, determined what his rights were, by taking into account all the facts, from his perspective, from the prosecution's perspective, determined quite independently - the executive arm of Government - that he was entitled to bail. He imposed quite stringent conditions. He was obviously satisfied that it was safe to release him into the wider community. But then immediately after that, the Minister determines quite unilaterally, based on information that hasn't been tested, that he ought to be detailed.

GREG TURNBULL: Mr Bugg, just quickly and finally, the Law Council I understand will release a report in the coming week prepared by Lex Lasry, the prominent lawyer, on the Guantanamo Bay process. What's the point of that now that David Hicks is in the slammer in Adelaide and going to be released in December?

TIM BUGG: Well, the Law Council considered Mr Hicks's case to be so critical to rule of law issues that it engaged Mr Lasry to attend Guantanamo Bay on three occasions. This will be his third report. The report will be very critical of the processes and the David Hicks case, despite the fact it's no longer on the front pages of our newspapers, will forever be a stain on this country's reputation internationally on rule of law issues.

GREG TURNBULL: And we're yet to see if we have another stain coming our way with the Haneef case. A lot to play out in that yet and thank you for your presence here this morning.